Will Kim Ki-yeon (27), who was also defeated by veteran catcher Huh Do-hwan at the age of 39 when he was with the LG Twins, be able to use the transfer to a rival team as a turning point in his career.
In the second round of the KBO draft held in November last year, the Doosan Bears selected LG catcher Kim Ki-yeon as the fourth pick in the first round to reinforce their home defense depth. After passing the nomination rights in the second and third rounds, Doosan sent pitcher Lee Hyung-beom (KIA) and outfielder Song Seung-hwan (NC) to secure Kim Ki-yeon in the second draft, which was revived in four years since 2019.마카오토토
Kim Ki-yeon, a former member of Jinheung High School, is an unfinished catcher who joined LG in the second round of the 2016 Rookie Draft as the 34th in the fourth round. Although he has spent eight years since joining the team, his record in the first division is only 14 three RBIs in 42 games, and even last year, when his team won the title for the first time in 29 years, he failed to break the record and showed sluggish performance with 18 and two RBIs in 28 games. He was also lagging behind the 39-year-old veteran catcher Huh Do-hwan, living in Icheon.
On the reason for Kim Ki-yeon’s nomination, Doosan said, “I nominated him as a young catcher who has completed military service, and I highly appreciate his potential in the future. He has strong shoulders and stable management skills. He is a player who will greatly contribute to the team if he has more experience because he has good talent,” adding, “I hope that Yang Eui-ji, the best catcher in Korea and a senior at Gwangju Jinbo, will greatly contribute to his growth.”
Kim Ki-yeon, whom I met at Sydney Spring Camp in Australia, said, “I never expected to transfer to the second draft. When I first heard the news over the phone, I was so puzzled. Doosan has many catchers, but I was really surprised that it nominated me.”
At the same time, I felt sorry for LG’s fans who had sent me lots of support. “I felt so sorry for LG’s fans since the beginning of last season, but I couldn’t do it,” Kim Ki-yeon said. “I think this is a definitive turning point in my career. Professional players should always work hard and do their best, but coming to a new team makes me feel as excited as when I was a rookie.”
What kind of team did Doosan see at LG? “When I was playing, I felt concentration. I thought the team was a team that performed really well, but after training in person, I felt why it did such a good job,” Kim Ki-yeon said.
Kim Ki-yeon is sweating profusely at the first spring camp in Sydney, Australia, along with Yang Eui-ji, Jang Seung-hyun, and Ahn Seung-han. Jang Seung-hyun and Ahn Seung-han are competing in good faith to secure the second catcher position to support Yang Eui-ji. Manager Lee Seung-yeop, who watched Kim Ki-yeon for 10 days, noted his potential, saying, “It was better than I thought. With the addition of Kim Ki-yeon, the competition for backup catchers has become interesting.”
“I’m getting used to the new team well. Catchers, fielders, and younger brothers are all very nice to me. In particular, Ji-Woo Yang is helping me a lot, but other teammates also came first to talk to me comfortably. Thank you so much,” Kim Ki-yeon said, signaling his smooth adaptation to Doosan. “Seriza and the battery coach also help me not to feel awkward in the new team.”
Kim Ki-yeon said strengthening defense is a prerequisite for survival in the catcher’s kingdom. “Early last year, I made many mistakes in defense. I am doing additional training in the morning and evening to secure stable defense,” Kim said. “My goal is to hit bigger balls than just hitting multiple single hits because I am a catcher. I try to make more powerful balls because my feet are slow.”
Players who are selected in the first round in the second draft must be registered in the first team entry for at least 50 days next season or the following season. It is a condition that Kim Ki-yeon can gain the upper hand in the competition with Jang Seung-hyun and Ahn Seung-han, but on the contrary, if it does not meet expectations, it may become a “Gyereuk” that will take the entry spot for 50 days.
“Not everyone can register for the first team for 50 days. I think it’s a good thing,” Kim Ki-yeon said. “I won’t miss the opportunity. I will prepare to stay in the first team longer than 50 days.”
Kim Ki-yeon, who joined the pro league in 2016 and has already become a ninth-year player, said, “If I want to succeed Yang Eui-ji, I need to work harder and show better performance than I do now. Even if I did well this year, that position will not be my position. I will continue to work hard to make sure that I can find my position,” he said in his dream of successful second draft.